June 22, 2006 GMT

It’s official! We made it to the Outback. It’s a little vague where the Outback actually begins, so we asked the question when stopping off for fuel and a sandwich at Tilly’s Servo in Alpha, a small village along the Capricorn Highway; so named as it lies along the Tropic of Capricorn. According to Tilly, if you’re from the city, the Outback begins when you leave the suburbs. However for those living further afield it’s a few more hours inland. Great stuff, but where exactly?


All was revealed when we entered Aramac Shire, en route from Longreach to Muttaburra, whereby a prominent sign announced “G’day Welcome to Aramac Shire The Real Outback, Where the West Began”. So there you go, now we know.


Upon arrival in Muttaburra (population 200), we came to learn this small town had several other attributes despite its small size. It’s the centre of Queensland for one and also the site where in 1963, a local stockman came across unique dinosaur remains, later to be excavated and pronounced “Muttaburrasaurus Longdoni”.



However for us, Muttaburra wasn’t about where the west began, its geographical location or the local dinosaur, it was about the people and our time spent there. Camping at the town’s rest area for free met with our approval, especially given the fact that the water supply was continuously hot as it’s fed from an underground hot spring! Another appealing fact was that it was within the vicinity of the local pub, and with the Wallabies playing England live on the telly, it was another chance for me to humiliate Emma!

To cut a long story short, by the next morning Australia had beaten England, the XXXX beer beat my head and we ended up riding out to an outback station belonging to some bloke we’d met the previous night via directions scribbled on the back of a beer mat.

Upon arrival at Bill’s 28,000 acre station, my sketchy welding skills were put to the test assisting Trevor fabricating steel gates, whilst Emma assisted Bill unloading cattle from two recently arrived Road Trains. A couple of hours later I was rudely disturbed by a loud air horn blast. I looked up to find Em driving one of the mammoth Road Trains round the farm!


Not content to stop there, Em later hopped aboard the farm quad bike and helped to muster the newly arrived cattle out to pastures new.


Over the next day or two, I helped out Bill and Trevor to muster sheep, mark lambs, hunt wild pigs (another introduced menace) and drink their XXXX supplies, generally having the time of my life. Riding an XR250 dirt bike over endless plains, in UK summer temperatures, with kangaroos hopping off into the distance and artisan well windmills pumping away on the horizon, I had to pinch myself this was real.

Meanwhile Em took a trip to the local shops for supplies with Peta, Bill’s wife– some 120kms away and was introduced to some of the local amenities, surprisingly sufficient for such a small community. Both Em and I have been blown away by the Australian hospitality, in particular Bill and Pete’s who took us into their home and gave us an insight into life on an outback station. However, more than that was the warmth and friendship experienced.


It wasn’t easy to leave, however the show must go on, so it was back on the bike and North on yet more gravel roads


to Porcupine Gorge, a National Park some 70kms North of Hughenden. We arrived not long before sun down, time to pitch the tent, get dinner on and catch an early night.

The next morning we were rudely woken to the sound of highly strung strimmers buzzing away. I poked my head out of the tent to find a hive of activity taking place; tables being erected, temporary awnings going up, even a helicopter came into land! I went to investigate and established there was an 8km-running race taking place that morning up the gorge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, Em and I signed up to participate. Before we knew it we were standing on the starting line down at the bottom of the gorge not knowing quite what we were letting ourselves in for. About an hour or so later we a little wiser and a lot more exhausted. Nonetheless we had a good time and another chance to meet the locals, some of whom had travelled some 5 hours from Townsville to compete.


After relaxing for the remainder of the day, we set off the following morning via Lynd Junction, whose claim to fame is Australia's smallest pub. Em quaffed a VB - no such luck for me, a Ginger Beer had to do.


Next stop was Undara National Park, home to the lava tubes, created some 190,000 years ago when lava flowed from a nearby volcano. The tubes themselves must be 10 – 15mts in diameter, and quite a sight to see, despite the damage to the wallet created by the fact you can only visit by taking a tour with the monopolistic tour operator. ‘Nuff said.


The campsite was good however, with our own private campfire and various marsupials paying us a visit throughout both day and night.


We therefore decided to stay an extra day and sort out some of the surplus luggage we’ve been lugging around. Heated discussions were inevitable as to what was deemed essential and non-essential, (like the size of Em’s wash-bag for example), however we made some progress and are on the way to lightening the load a little.

Entering the Atherton Tableland region yesterday after the Outback was quite a change to what we’ve been used to – it was raining for one. Not only that, but the scenery was much more akin to that of the UK; rolling green farmland but with masses of wild busy lizzies providing a wealth of colour by the roadside. We decided we’d give camping a miss for the night and treat ourselves to a traditional Queensland Hotel. The 95-year-old Malanda Hotel, the largest wooden hotel in Queensland, fitted the bill. Despite looking like it hadn’t had a refit since 1911, it all added to the character. And at 45 bucks night, who’s to complain?


Today it's off to Cairns to pick up some parts and give the bike a bit of a service. The dirt roads have taken their toll on both fork seals and paralever bearings, therefore they'll be replaced along with the usual 10K km service tomorrow. All in time for the next leg of our journey, North of Cairns and then along the Savannah Way to Darwin.


Posted by Emma Myatt at June 22, 2006 03:28 AM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!